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Does freelance need to be all or nothing?


I have long held the ambition of launching out on my own as a feeelancer (or part of a partnership). However I notice people often do this full-time (often as a result of redundancy).

I have been approached to start a new consultancy with 2 friends. The plan is to keep our current jobs (as internal trainers/OD staff) and perhaps reduce our hours and slowly build up our business. (Initially the time we can devote it it would be quite small - maybe 2/3 days a month each)

Do people know if this can be a successful model or does it need to be all or nothing in order to devote the necessary hours to it.

I would be really interested in other people's experience on this?

derek hughes

6 Responses

  1. contractual obligations
    Hi Derek
    quick thought…
    Does your contract of employment “allow” you to trade in the same discipline as a second job?
    Rus Slater

  2. Depends on what you want

    I echo Rus’s question about whether or not this is OK, but assuming that it is…

    It can be done, but there is always a cost. I only work 3 days a week, and I’m doing great. However, I have had to turn work away because of when or where it was required. This is my choice, and I’m happy with that.

    Many clients are willing to be flexible, but if you are too restricted in terms of availability I think that you may struggle. If they can’t get hold of you for days or only at certain times of the day, they may start looking for providers who are more readily available.

    I suppose the best of of doing 2 jobs is to make sure that BOTH are flexible so that you can maximise the opportunities available.

  3. Does Freelance Need To Be All Or Nothing?
    Hi Derek,

    If you want to do it this way, you can but I wouldn’t recommend it. It makes life more difficult and you will need to accept that your business will be a lot slower to build. Freelance training is not an easy option, you have to put in a huge amount of time and effort in order to get clients and then deliver the work once you have secured it.

    Perhaps you should think about what’s really stopping you from going freelance? If it’s a long term ambition, it sounds like it’s something you have a burning desire to do. The time will never be right – just go for it!!

    Contact me offline if you need any further help.

    Kind Regards,


  4. a tangential point
    On a tangential note, a point to be aware of;
    If you have a PAYE job you can get a mortgage on the basis of three payslips and a letter from your employer confirming that you are employed.
    If you are self employed you will need two years audited accounts, where you pay an accountant to reduce your tax bill as much as possible to the detriment of your ability to then raise a mortgage.
    At present a PAYE employee will get a mortgage at around 4.25% interest. A self certificated mortgage for a self employed person without two years certified accounts is at least 7.75%, regardless of loan-to-value or clean credit rating.
    If you are going to go self employed make sure you have the mortgage sorted out before you start!

  5. Devise a plan, and stick to it
    Hi Derek,

    It’s a tricky situation – and I agree with the content of all the other postings so far. I’ve been in your position – wondering about making the leap. For what it’s worth, IMHO, get some money behind you (say … enough to see you through for 6 months) and go for it. But, if you find the work isn’t coming in then step away – don’t flog a dead horse… have plans B, C & D in place … mitigate your risks.

    Having said that, if you don’t do it – you will always wonder ‘what if’. It’s a very personal decision to make – what works for you, won’t work for others and vice-versa.

    I’ve been self-employed for about a year now – and I wonder why I waited so long. It might sound funny, but I feel far more secure now than I did in full-time employment.

    So, I would say … get some money behind you, get a plan with targets and follow it. Keep a very tight hold on expenditure and monitor your progress closely (with tangible records … I use Excel for everything).

    If the money runs out, the worst thing that happens is that you have to go back to full-time employment.

    Good luck, Ian

  6. Yes it can be done
    Hi Derek, yes it can be done and I do exactly that. However, in the early days it is not easy as you are restricted as to when you can deliver for your client, unless like me you have a job which allows you to take annual leave or flexi quite easily.

    The other point to remember is that whatever you have delevoped for use with your employer is their intellectual property not yours so you cant take what you deliver in house and sell it on the open market regardless of what your contract of employment says about the ability to have a second job. You also need to be very sure that you do not merge the two and answer private business emails in work time or use their printers even for small amounts of your private work etc.

    In essence you need to maintain a space between your private work and your employed work

    I would also agree with Rus that you need to get all your finances in order as self employed financing for mortgages etc is not easy. I would also add that most banks will only look at income from one source so you couldnt really combine 50k from your job and 30k from your freelance and say to a bank you earn 80k for loan purposes.

    The best way to work in the way you are suggesting is to build up a couple of regular clients that will be flexible with you and then go from there.

    Make sure that your initial charges are below market rate.


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